From an inferior car on a karting circuit and limited resources to a Formula One double world champion.
Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic Russian Formula One Grand Prix to take a huge step towards his third world championship after Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg retired early on with throttle failure.
|Drivers standings (top-5)|
1. L Hamilton – 302
2. S Vettel – 236
3. N Rosberg – 229
4. K Raikkonen – 129
5. V Bottas – 111
The win was Hamilton’s ninth of the season, and the 42nd of his career, and the Briton’s untroubled afternoon was a stark contrast to his German team mate’s woes.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second at the Olympic Park circuit to overtake Rosberg as Hamilton’s closest rival, 66 points adrift of the Briton with four races and a maximum 100 points remaining.
If results go Hamilton’s way, he can secure his second successive title in Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time.
Hamilton, who also won the inaugural Russian Grand Prix last year and has now surpassed the tally of victories racked up by the late triple champion Ayrton Senna, now has 302 points to Vettel’s 236 and Rosberg on 229.
“It looked like we were going to have a race and I was thinking this is great and we were going to put on a good show,” said Hamilton, after collecting the winners’ trophy from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Nico made a mistake at turn one and went wide. I overtook him and after that, or maybe even before, he started to have some problems. It is very unfortunate for the team.
“Those last five laps I was just taking it in. I don’t know how many times I’ll be in this position again,” added the champion.
Mexican Sergio Perez finished third for Force India, in a race with two safety car interludes following crashes, after Finnish drivers Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen collided while battling for the final podium place.
Raikkonen finished fifth for Ferrari, a result that kept Mercedes waiting for their second successive constructors’ championship.
However, the Finn faced a stewards enquiry into the collision, with the possibility of a penalty for ramming the rear of Bottas’s Williams.
Spanish rookie Carlos Sainz, who was in hospital only a day earlier after crashing his Toro Rosso in practice, had been heading for his best result after running as high as sixth but retired eight laps from the end.
Race result (top-10):
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari
3. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes
4. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
6. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull – Renault
7. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber – Ferrari
8. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus – Mercedes
9. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren
10. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren